That was a line on the National Public Radio show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, which is probably the most fun you can have with news on radio.
But it brings to mind the original quote, by Martin Niemoller:
“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
― Martin Niemöller
A little history: According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, "Martin Niemoller was a Protestant pastor and head of the anti-Nazi Confessing Church. Arrested for ‘malicious attacks against the state’, he spent seven years in the Dachau and Sachsenhausen [concentration camps. He was] released in 1945 by the Allies."
We might well keep his words in mind these days in the United States. Maybe a little like this:
First they came for the immigrants, and I didn’t speak up because they did dirty jobs I wouldn’t do and they didn’t dress well and, well, they’re really not like us.
They they came for the unions, and I didn’t speak up because I don’t belong to a union and who needs them anyway and you can’t trust those people because a lot of them are immigrants and a lot of them are just people looking for cushy jobs, you know?
Then they came for the firemen, and I didn’t speak up because I’ve got enough money to pay for private fire protection, and public firemen mostly just sit around the fire house playing cards anyway, right?
Then they came for the policemen, and I didn’t speak up because I’ve got private police protection, but we need some public police to keep the lower classes in line.
Then they came for the teachers, and I didn’t speak up because my kids go to private schools, and the public schools are terrible and always whining about money and class size and teacher training, so let them go work for a living at a real job.
Then they came for the public service workers, and I didn’t speak up because they’re a bunch of leeches and I can never get anyone to answer my demands at town hall and they’ve got these huge pensions, you know?
They won’t ever come for me, though, because I’m just like them, a Republican, I’m one of them and I’ve got money.
— Willard Mitt Romney
(My apologies to Martin Niemoller, but it’s got to be said again and again, generation after generation, because humans are a stupid species with short memories and shorter attention spans.)